Setting up a Debian base-system

For most of my Linux projects, and a lot of the tutorials on this site, I fire up a virtual machine on Hyper-V and load up a minimal Debian system. Working with a Debian system gives me a stable, clean, platform I can easily customize as needed. Plus, there are numerous programs available for Debian but comparatively few are installed by default, so I get just what I need without any additional clutter. This exact base setup is what I use for my projects and what most of the Linux examples on this site are based upon, so I thought I’d give you a quick walkthrough of how to get the same setup.

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Setting up a Static IP on a Debian machine

There are lots of times when you need a static IP on a machine — especially virtual machines or server systems. It’s pretty simple on a Debian system and can make your life much easier on Debian VMs so you can set up name resolution between the host and guest. Regardless of your reasons, we only have to edit a few files and run a few simple commands.

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Easy internet access for Hyper-V guests using NAT

Networking with Hyper-V isn’t the easiest thing in the world to wrap your head around and sometimes you just don’t care. You want your guest VMs to have secure access to the internet and your host machine without any of the fuss and complexity of understanding TCP protocol levels, blah, blah, blah.

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Easily monitor your logs using Logwatch

Most every program you install and run, especially services, generate some form of log file and nearly everyone only checks those logs when something bad happens.  Why? Because there are so many logs to check!  Well, that’s where a log parsing program can be a lifesaver.  I like using Logwatch on my Debian/Ubuntu systems. (more…)

Certbot on Debian/Ubuntu for automatically renewed free SSL certs

If you run a server of any kind — mail, web, git, database, whatever — you know the importance of making sure your clients can securely connect.  That all starts with an SSL (or more accurately, TLS) certificate.  For smaller or private installations, many people are relying on Let’s Encrypt since they issue free certificates.  However, those certificates are only good for 90 days and then have to be renewed… that’s a hassle!  Enter Certbot… (more…)

Custom prompt and command aliases: Why I choose bash.bashrc

Working with any Linux distro means you’ll be spending a lot of your time at the prompt.  So, I’m sure you’ve made it your own over time.  Maybe added some colours, the time, important information like the current path, etc.  Plus, I’m sure you’ve created a few command aliases that make your life easier.  But, where do you put this stuff so it’s applied even when you quickly switch to a different user, say root, for some admin work?  When I first started out, I found that everyone seems to recommend putting these preferences in a different place.  Most people suggested /etc/profile while others staunchly advocated the ~/.bashrc file.  I’m going to tell you why I chose option #3, /etc/bash.bashrc. (more…)

Help desk horror stories??? What are you talking about? (Intro)

This is part 1 of 1 in the series Tales from the 'desk... Help desk horror stories

If you’ve done IT support for any length of time, like even 5 minutes helping out your folks, then you’ve run into your share of horror stories.  But, how do you (properly and professionally) handle these situations and explain them to your end users?  What answers do you give them when they ask a valid, if not mundane, question?  I’ve compiled some great answers to the most common questions I get so that you can steal them and use them too, or just laugh at the questions people ask the support-guy! (more…)

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